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FINANCE NEW MEXICO: National laboratory shares technology

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Los Alamos National Laboratory has a stockpile of patents covering technologies with untapped commercial potential, and it wants to simplify the process of sharing these innovations — as well as its portfolio of copyright-protected software — with businesses that can translate this wealth into private-sector jobs.

The lab’s Richard P. Feynman Center for Innovation (FCI) in August launched the Express Licensing program to fast-track the licensing of technologies and software with a simple online application. The application template standardizes licensing terms and makes it possible for LANL to share inventions on a broader scale without making potential partners and customers undergo exhaustive individualized negotiations.

“We’re very pleased with the early success that we’ve seen in our Express Licensing program thus far, particularly in the licensing of software packages,” said Laura Barber, licensing manager for the lab’s Feynman Center. “We’ve also received expressions of interest from companies through this program that have led to new partnering and collaboration opportunities between the lab and industry. FCI is encouraged that this new addition to the laboratory’s licensing program has increased private-sector access to LANL technologies and has catalyzed numerous beneficial outcomes.”

The overarching goal is to dramatically increase the lab’s outreach to the business community in an effort to positively impact the economic competitiveness of U.S. companies, especially in New Mexico. Express Licensing is one of several LANL initiatives designed to improve how technology and software developed at the government-supported national laboratory can move into the private sector and stimulate growth.

How it works

In return for a small license fee and/or royalty, a business gains the right to make or use a patented technology in the design or manufacture of a commercial product or service offering. Certain software packages are offered — including those available under fee-based licenses, as well as some tools that may be downloaded at no cost — under open source licenses or executable downloads.

The laboratory currently has more than 100 technologies (patents and software) available for licensing through its Express Licensing program. A comprehensive list of the lab’s issued U.S. patents and software packages available through the program can be found on the Feynman Center’s website by clicking on the “Available Technologies” tab.

The fees are minor compared to what a business would pay to obtain and maintain its own patent, and they help LANL cover the steep cost of patent maintenance over the life of the patent. The license is nonexclusive — unless the licensee wants to negotiate terms and costs exclusively. The license enables the licensee to legally produce ce the invention covered by the patent or utilize the software protected by the copyright.

“Express Licensing is a great vehicle to provide broad exposure to the software Los Alamos has available for license to companies of all sizes. The license process is straightforward and enables a licensee to obtain quick access to the tools for rapid problem-solving and bottom-line impact within their company,” said Kathleen McDonald, software manager for LANL’s Feynman Center.

For more information about Express Licensing, visit lanl.gov/projects/feynman-center/commercialization/expresslicensing.php.

(Finance New Mexico is a public-service initiative to assist individuals and businesses with obtaining skills and funding resources for their business or idea. To learn more, go to FinanceNewMexico.org.)

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